The male stars of soccer are worldwide celebrities, but the top female player is a relative unknown. Marta Vieira da Silva—she goes by Marta—is a 25-year-old Brazilian who plays in the fledgling women's pro league in the US. Her team is the Western New York Flash of suburban Buffalo, which has to ride an hour down the Thruway to Rochester for "home" matches. Marta, though, "might very well be the best female soccer player of all time," writes Wiebke Hollersen in a profile for Der Spiegel.
She has been FIFA's top woman player for an unprecedented five straight years. She has never won a World Cup for Brazil, however, something she will try to change when the women's tournament begins on June 26 in Germany. Marta has been in the US two years now and is rumored to make $500,000 a year, which would make her the highest-paid female soccer player. She proves she's in her own league on the field: "She has unexpected ideas," writes Hollersen after watching a game. "But, unfortunately, the people not expecting them are sometimes her teammates." (Fans can find more World Cup previews here.)